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1) Any little life-details you’d like to share?

I’m an introvert. Daydreamer. Book fanatic. Author. Oh, and I often forget to eat while writing. Thankfully, I remember to breathe.

My passion for written words has dominated my life since I learned to read at age five, while living on Guam, a tiny dot of an island in the South Pacific. I attended a rustic school with no doors—just the open doorframes set in plain wooden walls, which shielded bare concrete floors, and a single water fountain in a central courtyard. I don’t remember the school’s bathroom…which disturbs me, now that I think of it. Perhaps there was no bathroom. Just as there was no auditorium, no hallway, and no lunchroom. In fact, no lunches were provided.

Sounds austere, doesn’t it? It was. And this air of austerity was amplified by my very strict teacher, SisterMaryElaine, who loved to frighten gullible first-graders with threats of bloodied stapled lips, beatings with yardsticks, and promises of Divine Retribution for any infractions of class rules. I confess to faking illnesses, trying to stay home sick a few times. SisterMaryElaine frightened me that much!

All was forgiven, however, when SisterMaryElaine handed me books, and sternly nudged me toward the beginning of my lifelong heaven-granted obsession with reading and writing.

Nowadays, (we won’t mention how many years later) I’m a Berean living in landlocked Colorado with my husband and two sons, who indulge my reading and writing mania.

2) How long have you been writing?

Officially? As an adult? 25+ years. I’m not an overnight success story. While I don’t have the required file overflowing with rejections, I do possess a few—evidence of emotional bruises and a few stumbles along my writing journey. My husband and his sister are editors and have drawn me into many projects over the years. I’ve written numerous short pieces, devotionals, etc., and I’ve authored several works in other genres. I also have several complete manuscripts tucked away, plus two partially finished projects that I set aside while writing Prophet, Judge, and King.

3) What drew you to the fantasy genre?

A character I couldn’t refuse.

Ela, the main character for Prophet, emerged from a dark fragment of a dream one morning, about two years ago. She was young, frightened, and facing death, but determined to hear her Creator despite the risks. Usually I forget dreams within a few hours, but this one stayed with me and haunted me until I finally broke down and wrote the book. The problem was that my agent doesn’t usually handle fantasy fiction. I was nervous about presenting her my wild deviation from our agreed-upon historical. Thankfully, she obliged and sent Ela’s story to various publishers. Two weeks after sending the full manuscript to Bethany House, Prophet received the initial approval. I was shocked. Months before, I’d actually told several author-friends that I’d never write fantasy or YA, though I’ve read many, many fantasy and YA books, and I’m a huge speculative fiction fan.

My friends have been very gracious, now that I think of it. I haven’t heard a single “told you so!” or “bwahahahaaa!!!” from anyone—bless them.

4) What is your best writing habit and your worst writing habit?

My best writing habit? Sticking to deadlines. I’ve found that if I write and polish one chapter per week, I can generate a presentable manuscript within six months—while working full time at the day job.

Did I mention the mochas and potato chips? Good writing fuel, therefore, good writing habits!

My worst writing habit…besides reading the end of a book before I read chapter one…is wasting time following bunny trails while conducting research. The internet is a blessing and a curse for research. I can squander an entire day checking out info-sites online! And don’t get me started on FaceBook, Pinterest, or emails!

5) What advice can you give to new writers?

  1. READ. You’ve seen this rule before, but it’s true. Read everything. Books from every genre, vitamin labels, road signs, terrific bestsellers, rotten bestsellers, and everything in between, including the fine print in all those internet forms you routinely accept without reading on all that free software you download. Really. Have you paid attention to those babies? Scary stuff!
  2. Also PERSIST. An editor once told me, “Cream rises to the top.” Truth! Unless you give up. Keep writing, learning, and polishing your work. Which leads me to the third critical bit of info:
  3. ACCEPT ADVICE! Don’t send samples of your work to industry pros and then ignore advice because you’re stung that they didn’t bow to your obvious literary brilliance. If more than one person mentions a particular concern regarding your plot or style, set aside your pride and your impulse to throw things, and take their suggestions seriously. Agents, editors, and other authors are busy critters—believe me. But if they pause long enough to add a few comments to their polite rejections, it’s best to pay heed.


6) What intrigued you about Seven Questions for the Horse?

How did you know I was intrigued? Well…equines intrigue me, and a literary equine is too much fun to resist. Plus, one of my most popular characters in Prophet is a monster-warhorse—the most reader-mentioned character in this series thus far. The horse never says a word, but he’s nearly stolen the plot as an unplanned antihero.

7) What sequels to your books are in the works?

Judge, the sequel to Prophet, hits the stores on November 1st, and King, book 3 in this series, should be available next spring, 2013. I’ve enjoyed writing them! And revising them, and proofreading, and marketing—which is another hurdle aspiring authors ought to prepare themselves for. Sometimes, marketing takes a bigger bite out of the writing day than actual writing. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve met some fascinating personalities while blogging, equine and human. J

Links!

R.J.'s Facebook Page
R. J.'s main website
R. J.'s blog

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Aug. 10th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
monster warhorse
Yes, Pet aka Scythe! I love that horse. Tom & I cannot wait for the other 2 books.
Frank Creed
Aug. 10th, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
Good interview, RJ!
(Anonymous)
Aug. 14th, 2012 04:42 am (UTC)
R. J.'s interview
I'll relay the message, Frank--thank you! :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )